Cancer is a major killer, yet there are types that people know little about. You probably know someone with cancer, have in the past or will in the future. It’s widely known that one in three people will suffer with the disease in their lifetime, but few people are aware of Lymphoma – one of the most common cancers affecting 15 to 30 year olds.
Cancer of the lymphatic system occurs when a person’s lymphocytes are not in control, causing them to divide in an abnormal way. Irregular lymphocytes collect in the lymph nodes before enlarging, and eventually forming tumours.
Lymphoma cancer can affect lymph nodes all over the body – including organs such as the spleen or bone marrow. It can also happen in other areas of the body, such as the stomach, skin or liver. Similarly to other cancers, Lymphoma affects the functioning of the tissue in an area – so, for example, the bone marrow may not be able to produce and make new blood cells.
Generally, the cause of Lymphoma remains unknown. Research suggests that chemicals in working or living environments could be related, but Lymphoma is not contagious. The disease is a result of change to the cell genes of DNA. Some people are at more risk of the condition than others, usually because of another medical condition they suffer, especially if this interferes with their immune system.
Spot the symptoms:
Unlike many cancers, Lymphoma is difficult to identify as there is no single symptom, and the ones that show are easily confused with other illnesses. Certain combinations of symptoms are common, although many sufferers don’t feel any different up until – and post – diagnosis.
A painless lump – often in the neck, armpit or groin areas – us a common sign, but other symptoms include excessive sweating at night, fevers, weight loss, tiredness, coughing or breathlessness, persistent itching or abdominal pain.
Get it treated:
As with other cancers, Lymphoma is treated with chemotherapy, but another form of treatment is radiation. Lymphoma-infected cells are radiation-sensitive – more so than breast or lung cancer cells – and therefore the amount needed to eliminate infected cells is low. This means the amount of toxins inflicted on normal cells is minimal.
Worried? Don’t be. Although it’s important that students are aware of Lymphoma cancer, experts stress that these findings should not cause panic. If you are worried, visit your GP.